What You Owe Yourself

We’re all trying to make a better day, week, month, year and life for ourselves. We want this at work and at home. We all have different ways we’re trying to get there. It’s a difficult thing to do on an ongoing basis – and in all aspects of your life. The bottom line is there are certain things you owe yourself in order to make the “better” happen for yourself.

You owe yourself a debt of gratitude.

The primary reason you are where you’re at is because you played a large part in getting there. Thank yourself just as much as you thank the others that helped along the way. Don’t shout it to the world – just say it so you can hear. More importantly, make sure you listen.

You owe yourself time.

Time to get the job done. Time to spend with those you want to spend time with. Time for yourself. Make good on that. If you spend the time you owe yourself on things that don’t mean much to you, it’s like putting money in a bad investment. You’re a good investment. Pay yourself first and the rest will come…especially if you’re being true to yourself.

You owe yourself rest.

Get some sleep. Take a break. Better yet, give yourself a break. Recharge those batteries and you’ll recharge your life – at work and home. Rest up…it’s a long road that we all travel on.

You owe yourself trust.

Trust in what you’re doing. If you can’t or don’t, stop doing it. One of my favorite songs is Blue Rodeo’s “Trust Yourself.” One of the lyrics I keep in mind as much as I can is:

Trust yourself and don’t believe in any more lies.

Those lies come from the closest source in most cases…you. Stop it and you’ll start moving forward to the “better.”

You owe yourself faith.

I’m not talking about religion here. This is faith in you and your abilities. Self-doubt turns into self-debt. Keep an open mind and learn as much as you can about what you love and what matters to you. That’ll help nurture the faith you need in yourself. Then you’ll be able to take risks. Risks that will make all the other thing, well, better.

You owe yourself options.

Having one option is really having none at all. Two options isn’t much better. You need more. Diversify yourself. Reach your full potential. That’s where the awesome lies.

You owe yourself fear.

Fear motivates. Fear moves people. You need fear to go forward. Without it, no one would do anything groundbreaking. We’d just do. As Seth Godin says in his latest work, Linchpin, that the key to becoming indispensable – a linchpin – is to overcome the fears that hold us back. So go do that. Face the fear, beat it and then..go.

You owe yourself freedom.

Freedom is different for everyone. It comes it different forms as well. Financial freedom is what most relate to – and crave – but it’s really just one type of freedom. Find the moments of freedom in your life and soak them up. If you do that you’ll want to make more of them happen.

You owe yourself variety.

Mix it up. Life is too short to be boring. Step outside your comfort zone both at work and at play. It opens a lot more doors than it closes.

You owe yourself balance.

Having an awesome time at work is all well and good, but you can’t truly have an awesome experience if you don’t find a balance between home and work life. There’s not always you to consider, either, which makes it challenging. Some can handle work challenges quite well but aren’t so hot with the ones on the home front. If you’ve felt unfulfilled even though things are going great at work (or at home) there’s a good chance a lack of overall balance is the culprit. Sometimes the feeling is subtle, but it’ll start shouting if left unchecked long enough. Pay attention and start to pay some of those debts you owe yourself (taking breaks, adding variety, etc.) and the balancing act can start to become an easier thing to handle.

You owe yourself…well, you.

You have to live with yourself so you might as well be the best you can be. I know I’ve had roommates that I couldn’t live with for very long – imagine feeling that way about yourself. You can’t evict yourself from your life. Parts of you, yes. But not all. Embrace who you are and strive to improve. Just when you think you’ve accomplished something amazing you’ll find there’s something just as (or perhaps more) amazing right around the corner for you to accomplish next. It’s your choice whether or not you’re going to be your own best friend or your own worst enemy. You’d “better” choose wisely.

I’ll leave you with a final thought…once you start paying yourself what you owe, things just get better – and that’s just one step away from “best.”

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Mike Vardy an editor on Work Awesome. We could tell you where his personal productivity parody site, Eventualism and all of his other projects reside on the web, but you'd be best served going to Vardy.me and following the trail of virtual bread crumbs from there.


  1. Luce on the 25th March

    That’s good advice! Thanks Mike : )

  2. Kristin Wemmer on the 25th March

    Thanks Mike! It’s great to be reminded that it’s okay to owe yourself something. I really appreciate the “fear” bit- it’s motivation to set your bar high!

  3. Dylan on the 25th March

    Good article, made me reflect. Definitely should put more effort in myself than others!

  4. Anne on the 25th March

    Great article, we spend so much time owing other people we forget to owe ourselves. Very important people!

  5. Eric Bruntmyer on the 25th March

    Great post. Thanks for sharing this.

  6. Raphael Monroe on the 27th March

    Awesome post!
    The topics about variety and balance are completely right!
    Thank you for sharing..

  7. Yari on the 30th March

    Amazing post! Love it. It’s so easy to spend all your time taking care of others and neglecting yourself. It helps to remember than when you take care of yourself (at least as much as you do other), you’re happier and healthier, which allows you to be even more helpful to those you love. Thanks for the reminder!

  8. WhiteWizrd on the 30th March

    thumbs up to those who’ve left the “victim” to one side and are embracing the possibility of being a full time “student” as in – there is everything to learn from life, everything to BE, not dwell in surviving but in THRILLING if life allows. Embrace the unknown. GROW to your full potential. YEs yes. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. Elizabeth on the 17th November

    This is one of the best posts on self-development that I’ve seen for some time. Thank you. Today’s life style is all about go, go, go as fast as you can and as a result we reach burn out before we know it. This post is a must read for anyone who has forgotten how to enjoy being alive.

    • Mike Vardy on the 17th November

      Thanks so much, Elizabeth! Glad to hear that it resonated with you.

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